Monday, March 17, 2008

Anak

"Ngayon iyong naramdaman / Ngayon iyong naranasan / Ngayon iyong maiintindihan / Tama pala ang iyong ina / Tama pala ang iyong ama / Ngayon hindi ka na magtataka / Hindi pala birong maging magulang"

"Now you've felt it / Now you've experienced it / Now you'll understand / Your mother was right / Your father was right / Now you will not question / It's not easy being a parent"

This song by Pinoy musician Freddie Aguilar opens with the birth of a new baby whose parents find him an utter delight. The first couple of verses talk about how the parents lose sleep making sure their baby is fed and comfortable, and yet they somehow still find energy to play with him. Sometimes the parents are exasperated and don't know what to do with their child. They are both new at this, but they do the best they can.

As the boy grows older, the next verses take a darker turn. He develops a strong will. He falls in with the wrong crowd. His path strays. The song implies that he gets into serious trouble and when he approaches his mother for help, she weeps and asks him, "Son, how did you end up this way?"

The final verses describe the boy's maturing into adulthood and eventually fatherhood. When he welcomes his firstborn into the world, he finally understands what his parents felt when they had him, and what he put them through. It's the kind of redemption moment that every parent seems to hope for when they say, "Someday, when you have kids, you'll know."

For the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about this song; I feel like I've lived some of the lyrics myself. I wasn't the easiest kid to raise . . . all right, I'll just say it: I was a bit of a brat. [I'm sure those of you who know me well are shocked. Shocked!] I didn't get into any trouble with the law or anything, but I could be difficult, demanding, mouthy and "too smart for my own good", especially when I was doing something stupid like staying out all night without calling to let my mom know where I was. She used to say that karma would someday "reward" me with a kid who is just like me. Whenever she said that, I'd roll my eyes and reply, "Oh, MOM. You are being SO dramatic! I'm SORRY, okay? Gaw!"

I know this sounds crazy, but part of me does worry that my mom's prediction will come true. On the one hand, if I do have a kid like me, then I might anticipate things s/he'll try to get away with. I'll at least know where to look for the stash of pot and condoms . . . that of course my child is only holding for a friend. On the other hand, if our Spidey senses are correct and we do have a girl, then a little girl like me + me under the same roof = Dusty should maybe look into that bomb shelter after all.

We all look askance at the mother who is yelling at her child across the aisles of the grocery store and think, "I'm SO not going to be that woman." We all see the father who gives his kid a toy car just so his kid will stop whining and think, "I would never do that." We all listen to our friends tell stories of their kids' worst tantrums and think, "My kid would have better boundaries." And yet I'm sure that every parent has found him/herself in the same place and done the same thing at one point. You never know what you're going to do in any given situation until you're actually doing it.

One of our Bay Area friends asked me and Dusty if we had come up with our House Rules, the sort of non-negotiable laws that will be enforced under any and all circumstances. Another friend in Austin asked me what our TV policy was going to be. I thought this was obvious, but perhaps I need to point out that our child is but a fetus at this juncture. If I could impose a rule right now it would be, "Stop kicking Mama in the bladder."

In general, Dusty and I think we should meet our kid before we start figuring out how to raise him/her, but we've at least agreed on four "rules":

1) Stay away from cigarettes. Because of those damned cancer sticks, you will never know your Gram.

2) Go to college. Even if it's just to shut us up. You'll grow and learn a lot by just being on campus.

3) Do not get pregnant [or get anyone pregnant] before you finish college and get a job. You have a few relatives who can tell you how hard it is to try raising a kid before you're done being a kid yourself.

4) Try not to be an asshole. If you act like one, admit it and apologize. [This one we're "appropriating" from Auntie Karin.]

I know I should probably be thinking or worrying about how much more jacked-up my body is going to get in the next few weeks or how intense labor is going to be, but those are passing discomforts, over and done with in a few short breaths. Once this kid is born, I will have to live with the kind of person s/he turns out to be for the rest of my life. And his/hers.

Darling Button, if you are reading this from T3H FUTURE, I hope I didn't fuck you up. And if I did, may it have only been in interesting ways that provided inspiration/profit, in the form of a bestselling tell-all memoir or critically-acclaimed debut novel or Billboard-charted solo album.

I'm new at this and I'll do the best I can.



"Anak (Child)" by Freddie Aguilar
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